Students head back to school in West Virginia

Students head back to school in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Superintendents in West Virginia’s K-12 schools say increasing student achievement, enhancing school safety and transitioning out of the COVID-19 pandemic are among their top priorities as students head back to class this week.

Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus

The first day of school was Tuesday in Barbour, Braxton, Pocahontas and Upshur counties. Students in Cabell, Calhoun, Pleasants and Randolph counties were back in school Wednesday.

“Everyone is so happy to see the yellow buses, picking up our students and bringing them back. It’s sort of that celebration because all of us have been through so many challenges of the pandemic,” Upshur County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus told MetroNews.

Lewis-Stankus said she’s hoping for a more “normal” school year.

“What is normal?” She asked. “We’re all trying to redefine that word because we have to be bolder than we were before the pandemic because we have overcome a lot of obstacles.”

But some issues remain county-to-county. Teacher shortages are top of mind. Lewis-Stankus said they’re working to fill the gaps.

Dr. Ryan Saxe

“We’re doing a lot of different options in terms of getting people into the classroom and certified as teachers,” she said. “When you work with children and you influence the future, it’s more than a job.”

Providing students with a quality education also comes with securing school buildings from potential active shooters. Dr. Ryan Saxe, superintendent of Cabell County Schools, said they have measures in place to address those concerns.

“Making sure that all of our schools across the district are receiving security upgrades in the way of safe school entrances,” Saxe said. “We’re also looking at implementing special locking devices for classroom doors.”

Lewis-Stankus said they held school safety training sessions over the summer.

“In the beginning of the school year, we brought our teachers and staff in for safety training,” she said. “Of course we’re thinking about the social and emotional aspects of teaching and learning as well.”

Barbour County Schools Superintendent Jeff Woofter said he wants to do better on standardized test scores this school year.

Jeff Woofter

“We’re in a pretty good place right now, but we can always improve. We just want to make sure that we serve the students to the best of our ability,” Woofter said.

The first school day back in Barbour County included some minor complaints, but nothing major, Woofter said.

“On the first day, you always have bus issues, you have new enrolls coming in late, just normal things that can happen to throw off your day,” he said.

Students in Boone, Brooke, Doddridge, Gilmer, Lincoln, Mason, Ritchie, Webster, Wirt and Wood counties return to school Thursday.

Grant, Mineral, Pendleton, Tyler and Hardy counties begin the school year Friday.

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